"Too Old To Rock & Roll, Too Young To Die" (Chrysalis Records; 1976)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

This 2002 re-release of Jethro Tull's "Too Old To Rock & Roll, Too Young To Die!" is yet another release from the extensive classic catalog of Jethro Tull's mid-70s era of eclectic rock'n'roll excursions.

"Too Old To Rock & Roll, Too Young To Die!" is less acoustic than it's often folk and medieval sounding predecessor, "Minstrel In The Gallery." Quite a few tracks on "Too Old To Rock & Roll, Too Young To Die!" sound like they're tailor-made for radio - '70s-era mainstream rock radio that is. However, most of "Too Old To Rock & Roll, Too Young To Die" is a low-key affair that fails to get the energy pumping even taking into account the era from which it came.

Part of the problem may be that "Too Old To Rock & Roll, Too Young To Die!" was recorded mere months after "Minstrel In The Gallery." Even the best artists are unlikely to write two album's worth of great songs in less than a year.

The bonus tracks are "A Small Cigar" and "Strip Cartoon." Of course, I know so little about Jethro Tull's regular material I am at a complete loss to provide any perspective on how these two tracks fit into the extensive Jethro Tull catalog. "A Small Cigar" has an almost wild acoustic/folk-symphonic hybrid while "Strip Cartoon" features a typical Jethro Tull up-tempo sound with wildly vivid lyrics.

Overall, "Too Old To Rock & Roll, Too Young To Die!" lacks the 'oomph' of the other, admittedly not extensive, material that I've heard from Jethro Tull. As far as quality classic rock'n'roll goes, I'd certainly listen to this disc over much of the material I hear on classic rock radio these days. Due to its progressive nature, I think "Too Old To Rock & Roll, Too Young To Die!" has stood the test of time quite well.

"Too Old To Rock & Roll, Too Young To Die!" was produced by Ian Anderson.

Jethro Tull are Ian Anderson on vocals, acoustic guitars, harmonica, and flute, Martin Barre on electric guitars, John Evan on pianos, John Glascock on bass and vocals, and Barriemore Barlow on drums and percussion.

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"Minstrel in the Gallery" (Chrysalis Records; 1975)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

I'll admit that I was a little surprised Rough Edge received the latest Jethro Tull reissues for review. But, hey, I'm a fan of all kinds of music so why not give these Jethro Tull reissues a go. Aside from Jethro Tull 'winning' the Grammy for Best Heavy Metal Band a while back, I'd literally not given Jethro Tull much thought in the last 12 years or so.

I daresay that the only Jethro Tull song I 'know' is "Aqualung" from the album of that same title; That song was pretty much a staple on rock radio in the late '70s and early '80s. I doubt I could recognize any other Jethro Tull song if my life depended on it. Anyway, "Aqualung" was a formative song for the early years of the soundtrack of my youth along with bands like Led Zeppelin, Boston, Yes, and Pink Floyd.

But what was I to make of "Minstrel In The Gallery" which sounded more like a title to a folk album rather than a rock album? After taking in all of "Minstrel In The Gallery" I was surprised to hear that Jethro Tull had quite the variety in their influences and stylistic palette. "Minstrel In The Gallery covers rock, prog-rock, folk, and classical music in one fell swoop - and a cohesive one at that.

Over the years I'd read a lot about the great skills and tasteful playing of guitarist Martin Barre, but never really had a chance to listen to his work. Now I have evidence of, and truly understand, his greatness. Barre never overplays unless the song calls for it. In fact, I think Barre's playing is a prime example of a guitarist utilizing his strengths to maximize his contributions to another artist's vision.

In the liner notes bandleader Ian Anderson identifies "Minstrel In The Gallery" as the most acoustic of all Jethro Tull albums. So it goes without saying that "Minstrel In The Gallery" won't be high on the list of non-metal albums that Rough Edge readers will seek out. But I enjoyed it immensely even if I'm literally saving it for when I'm older and may need to ratchet down the intensity scale (perish the thought).

After having listened to "Minstrel In The Gallery" I can see where even heavy bands like Dream Theater got some of their influences for '70s prog-rock influenced tracks like "Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence."

I think I'll be saving "Minstrel In The Gallery" for the rare times when I'm in a classic rock mood when I'll combine it with a selection of CDs from Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Genesis, and Camel.

"Minstrel In The Gallery" was produced by Ian Anderson.

Jethro Tull are Ian Anderson on vocals, acoustic guitars, and flute, Martin Barre on electric guitars, John Evan on piano and organ, Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond on bass and string bass, and Barriemore Barlow on drums.

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"War Child" (Chrysalis Records; 1974)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

As Mr. Kelter makes note of above, despite the fact that Jethro Tull won the first ever Grammy award for Heavy Metal, they are not a heavy metal band. An argument might be made that they can be called "hard rock," but metal, never.

Knowing that, and being familiar with Jethro Tull's decidedly unique sound, are prerequisites for listening to and liking this and any other Tull CD. The band, perhaps most famous for Ian Anderson's one-of-a-kind voice and flute, are a distinctly different rock'n'roll band. 

Not only does Jethro Tull include many instruments that aren't widely recognized as standard rock instruments (i.e., the aforementioned flute, accordion, glockenspiel) but the songwriting is solely their own, too. It's rock'n'roll meets the Renaissance Fair meets Pink Floyd with a vibrant and colorful story-telling style.

"War Child" features two hugely familiar Jethro Tull hits: "Skating Away on the Thin Ice of A New Day" and "Bungle in the Jungle," both classic rock station favorites that still get lots of airplay today. In addition, this re-mastered edition contains seven bonus tracks, one of which "Warchild Waltz," could have come from the Andrew Lloyd Webber production of "War Child," once again emphasizing the band's huge story-telling ability. Speaking of the re-mastering - it's utterly brilliant. It had been some time since I last heard this album (probably years ago on cassette in the car) but I don't remember the guitars being so bright or the vocals being so clear. The entire sound is bigger and surprisingly modern.

Again, it's important to note that Jethro Tull has a sound all their own. If you've heard their stuff on the radio or you're familiar with their previous work - and you like it - you'll enjoy this re-issued edition of "War Child." 

It's truly rock'n'roll as an art form.

Jethro Tull: Ian Anderson on vocals, flute, acoustic guitars, alto, soprano and sopranino saxophones; Martin Barre on electric guitars and Spanish guitars; John Evan on organ, piano, synthesizers and piano accordion; Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond on bass guitar and string bass, and Barriemore Barlow on drums, glockenspiel and sundry percussion devices.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 29 Sep 2023 01:09:33 -0400.